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Damaged Goods: Chapter 22


Lev

Miserable Fact #611: Some prehistoric societies defleshed the bones of their dead.

I wake up with Bailey’s taste still in my mouth.

Last night I found out my best friend’s pussy is my favorite dessert.

Screw red velvet cupcakes—I want Bailey on my tongue for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Our one-way ticket to Orgasmville last night came to an abrupt stop when we heard everyone filing back into the house just when she was riding my face, her ass bumping on the headboard while she was jerking me off.

We both dressed in the nick of time. When Jaime and Mel burst in without knocking, they immediately asked why her bed was soaked—fortunately so was Bailey and her hair.

I explained about the withdrawals, and thankfully, they were too panicked about her condition to suspect anything.

Still, Jaime seized the tip of my ear and dragged me down the hallway to my room, a fake smile plastered on his lips. He spoke through clenched teeth.

“My daughter is going through enough as it is, so if you complicate shit for her, I am going to be extremely unhappy. I’ve extended a lot of trust so far… Have you ever heard stories of what happens when I get extremely unhappy, Levy boy? It’s rare but quite the sight.”

“Yup.” I refrained from wiping my brow. Everyone had heard the story of what he did to All Saints High’s former principal, Mr. Prichard, for his inappropriate relationship with Daria, though I never got the exact details. “Trust me, if anyone here is going to break a heart, it’s gonna be your daughter breaking mine.”

“That, I’m okay with.” He threw me in my room, dusting his palms off for good measure. Good for Jaime, man. For an old man, he sure had some juice in him.

Now, here I am, with morning wood the size of a french baguette and a stupid smile on my face, eager to start the day.

Mel spent the night in Bailey’s room, so I know she is on her second day of not using.

For a moment, I allow myself to indulge in cautious optimism.

I brush my teeth, comb my hair, and put on a pair of black insulated pants and a khaki crew shirt. On my way to the breakfast room, I stop at Bailey’s.

I hear the shower running in the en suite and open the door to surprise her. Not only have I seen this girl naked, I can write a dissertation about every beauty spot and blemish on her body.

What I don’t expect is seeing Mel leaning against the vanity, filing her nails while Bailey is in the shower.

“Oh, sorry.” I have the good manners to lower my gaze and make a move to close the door.

Mel pushes off the vanity, unimpressed. “I’m giving you five minutes. Spend them wisely. Preferably fully clothed.”

“Preferably? Mom! You shouldn’t let me replace one addiction with another,” Bailey shrieks, and for one, perfect moment, she’s the Old Bailey.

“You’re not gonna get addicted to sex, honey. UTIs run in our family.”

Melody leaves, and I turn to look at my best friend through the glass, arching my eyebrows. “Not sure that was meant for my ears.”

“It definitely was, mainly to embarrass me.” She rubs a coal soap bar on her arms. “Is this off-putting to you?”

“You could swim in barf every morning and I’d still not find you off-putting.”

Bailey turns off the water and I open the glass door of the shower and she’s in my arms.

We’re kissing, the water sweet on her lips.

Actually, Mel wasn’t far off. I am hoping if I give Bails enough pleasure, she’ll forget about the drugs and settle for me.

I grab her hips and kiss my way down her neck, licking her tits, her nipples, sucking her side boob into my mouth.

Pancakes and bacon can go fuck themselves. This is the tastiest thing on earth.

“Sleep well?” I kiss my way down her body, and she hooks her leg over my shoulder when I’m on my knees, leaning her back against the wall and falling open for me as my tongue flattens over her pussy and I start going down on her.

“Uh-huh.” She fists my hair in her palm, tugging me here and there when I start licking and sucking and adding fingers. “Once I stopped feeling like I was in a furnace, it got better.”

“Proud of you, Dove.”

Then I give her a sobriety present, as I finish what I started last night, and make her come on my tongue.


Twenty minutes later, we’re sitting at the table with the entire cul-de-sac clan, and everyone, and I mean everyone—including the goddamn catering staff, housekeepers, children, and decorative plants—seems to know what Bailey and I did in her room.

The first clue was us being fifteen minutes late. The second one was that orgasmic glow on our faces when we assumed the two empty seats at the table.

Now, all the grown-ups are staring at us, while the toddlers hurl mini-waffles at one another.

I know they’re judging me, but considering every motherfucker in this room has their own less-than-pristine happily-ever-after story, I’m not about to sweat about what people think.

“Have a good shower, sissy?” Daria makes a kissy face Bailey’s way, popping a red grape between her glossy lips. “You look uber refreshed.”

Bailey moves smithereens of scrambled egg on her plate with her fork, her face the picture of innocence. “I had to choose what to wear carefully. I run hot these days because of my, um, withdrawal.”

Daria’s smug beam vanishes. I disguise my chuckle with a cough.

“Try not to bite your toes off with that foot in your mouth,” Vaughn drawls. The only reason Penn doesn’t come to his wife’s defense is because he missed Vaughn’s taunt while trying to extract raspberry pieces from Sissi’s hair.

“What about you, Lev?” Vicious takes a swing at me because making people uncomfortable is his lifelong passion. “Do you also run hot or just horny?”

Everyone chuckles, other than Cayden and Sissi, who snap their heads up curiously. “Who’s hormie?”

“Homer,” Racer corrects, deadpan. “Simpson.”

“Wow.” Knight takes a bite of his pastry, sitting back. “This is not uncomfortable at all. Keep going, everyone.”

“So now I’m getting trashed for staying behind and taking care of my best friend while everyone else went out and got tanked?” I arch an eyebrow.

“You’re not old enough to get tanked,” Dad points out.

“Racer is not old enough to get tanked, either, and he tagged along,” I quip back.

“Can everyone please stop using that word in front of the children?” Auntie Emilia flinches.

“Sorry.” Daria sighs. “Old is a triggering word. Which is why I already started on Botox and Juvéderm. Minimal but makes a world of difference.” She winks.

Our families are nuts. No wonder we all ended up coupling with one another.

“You heard my wife. The next shithead to say the T-word gets booted,” Vicious announces.

“Shit!” Sissi tosses star-shaped cucumbers in the air, cooing eagerly. “Shit, shit, shit!”

“Well, this went great.” Knight gives Vicious the thumbs-up.

“Mama and Dada go on a shit,” Cayden says.

“Ship,” Luna coos. “Mama and Dada went on a ship.”

Uncle Vicious throws daggers through his pale blue eyes at everyone at the table, toddlers included. “Everyone in this room is about to be sent packing. If it makes my wife uncomfortable, it goes.”

“Should’ve given your seventeen-year-old self the same advice.” Jaime chugs orange juice, and he and Trent fist-bump each other.

Daria laughs and picks a fussy Sissi up from her high chair. Trent turns the TV on and flips to the sports channel on the grounds that “we need a segue more than I need a stiff drink.”

Small talk about drafts and college football ensues.

Of course, Penn, Dad, and Knight all turn to look at me, with Trent and Racer jumping in eagerly.

It’s not long before the conversation turns from football to my football.

After all, Penn is a 49ers star, and everybody at the table is eager to know if they’re going to have another NFL hero in the gang.

“So, did you get any offers yet, Lev?” Penn lounges back, crunching a piece of bacon between his straight, white teeth.

“Nope,” I lie, feeling my chest constricting as I do. I’m just delaying the inevitable.

I will go to college and play football. That’s what Dad wants, and I want him to be happy. “Sure they’ll come soon.”

“That’s weird. I was sure Michigan was gonna make an offer for you.” Penn’s hair flops over his forehead. He gives Leo DiCaprio in Titanic a run for his money. “Spoke with a pal of mine who knows the coach. He’s been pining for your ass since freshman year. Said it was a done deal.”

Fuck my life sideways with a pair of scissors.

“Maybe we should call the school. Find out where it stands on their end. The USPS is unreliable these days,” Dixie chirps.

First of all, way to blame the postal service for my own doing.

Second, now Dixie is playing mommy? Screw that.

Dad snaps his fingers. “Dixie’s right.”

“Dixie isn’t my mom—no matter how hard she fucking wants to be—so I won’t be taking suggestions from her,” I announce cheerfully.

Everyone’s heads snap my way. Stunned faces scan mine.

I’ve never spoken like that to anyone before, let alone Dixie, who is a pretty awesome chick. But I don’t want to get caught on my lie.

If Dad finds out about the Michigan offer, I’m toast.

And I still haven’t filled out the application to the Air Force Academy, even though the deadline is fast approaching. My oxygen levels seem to drop when I think about it.

Whoa. What crawled up your ass?” Dad scowls.

“Language!” Mel tosses her hands in the air.

“My business is mine, and I don’t want it discussed at the breakfast table.” I drop my utensils.

“We’re talking about your college plans, not your anal hygiene,” Penn points out. “Chill, dude.”

Bailey bumps her thigh against mine, signaling that now is a good time to confess my plans to apply to the Air Force Academy.

And I should, I really should. But I can’t. Not with Knight’s eyes boring into mine from across the table.

I know this look. It’s a look that says, Dad has been through so much and barely made it. You can’t do this to him. I won’t let you.

Overall, Knight is happy with his life. But there’s one point of contention between us—he says I always look for creative ways to die, between the fast cars and pilot dreams, and I say it’s none of his business.

I hope my face can convey my answer to him, which is, Part of the reason why Dad is so fucked-up is because you were high on everything you could crush into powder while Mom was taking her last few breaths, so don’t make me atone for your sins, pal.

Did anyone say fun times? If this is my tribe, I want to be a lone wolf.

“No, that’s all right. Lev’s right. I’ll mind my own business.” Dixie smiles apologetically, putting a hand over Dad’s to calm him down. “I didn’t mean to overstep. I hope you know that, Levy.”

“No, fuck that.” Knight snorts out, standing up, his chair scraping the floor. “Don’t apologize to him. You were just trying to help.”

“Language,” Edie singsongs.

“I’m about to throw everyone but my wife out.” Vicious sounds as serious as a heart attack.

“The children you can put down carefully outside our door,” Emilia suggests. “They didn’t do anything.”

I shoot up to my feet. Bailey is upright in an instant, beside me.

I shift my weight onto my knuckles, which are flat against the table. “I suggest you shut your trap, Knight, since the entire reason why we’re all having this conversation is because you weren’t good enough for the NFL.”

“I opted out.” He yawns, feigning boredom.

“Yeah.” I snort. “But you won’t let me do the same, right? Someone has to appease Daddy dearest, and we both know it’s not gonna be you.”

That sets Knight off. “It’s not about football, dumbass. For all I care, you can go get a liberal arts degree in feminist knitting and never play ball again. It’s about the dangers.”

Dad frowns, looking between us. “What dangers?”

“Lev wants to become a fighter pilot,” Bailey supplies, and I shouldn’t feel embarrassed and self-conscious, but I am.

“Lev can’t be a fighter pilot,” Knight says decisively.

“Why not?” I snarl. “Because all you can do is coach a little league team and take pictures with man thongs?”

“First of all, they’re called thonginis.” Knight’s outrage at the mistake is written plainly on his face. “Second, as previously stated, I don’t give one crap about your footba—”

“I do,” Dad pipes in. “He’s got talent. Why not use it?”

“Because I don’t want to!” I toss my hands in the air.

Dad looks surprised. Offended. His laser eyes are aimed at me. “What are you talking about? I thought you loved football.”

“That’s because you’re so busy mourning your dead wife, you don’t look up and see what’s right in front of you!”

Uncle Trent sighs and takes a sip of his orange juice, slanting his gaze to his wife. “I told you we should’ve gone to the Canary Islands, just us and the kids.”

“Knight, you need to calm down.” Luna puts an arm on my brother, and he immediately sits down, the pussy-whipped asshat that he is. “This is not the time nor the place.”

“Sorry, Moonshine.”

Dad’s eyes are still on mine. “Got anything to say to me?”

Let me make my own decisions.

Stop hanging your hopes and dreams and happiness on me.

But the words don’t come out.

They’re stuck in the same black hole inside me where I keep all my secrets.

Instead of gently releasing them, I turn around and storm off like a little bitch.


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